Two entertainment behemoths, a global tech firm, and a start-up social media company are the recipients of the American Foundation for the Blind‘s 2011 Access Awards, which were announced Tuesday. The companies were honored for their bold and successful strides toward creating new standards of accessibility and a better quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.
“Each of this year’s Access Award winners displayed a real commitment to making sure their products and services are equally accessible to everyone. And with the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a savvy business decision, says Carl Augusto, AFB’s CEO.
The winners include Accessible Twitter, created by Dennis Lembree, an alternative version of the popular online social network. The website corrects the inaccessibility of the original Twitter.com design. Twitter users can go to the Accessible Twitter site, log in with their usual Twitter account details and find the same core functions and features but with many enhancements, including optimization for screen reader use, full keyboard accessibility and support for older browsers and even text-only browsers.
Another winner is thriving TV network CBS Television Network, which has, since 2002, voluntarily and continuously provided video description to its viewers who are blind (in addition to closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, which are required by law.) The popular CBS programs “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” along with all movies and mini-series are now just as accessible to visually impaired audiences.
On the corporate side, Lexmark, a global leader in printing and imaging products, software, solutions and services, is being honored for its Lexmark Accessibility Solution, a Web-based application that gives visually impaired individuals user-friendly command of the copy, fax, scan and e-mail features of Lexmark’s many multifunction products. The application allows users to use their browser — rather than the device’s touch screen — to configure tasks.
Last but not least, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts won for its introduction of a new device at its U.S. theme parks that provides audio description for its many spectacular — and hugely popular — rides and attractions. Guests with visual disabilities who visit Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California can explore the parks with the help of a 7.2-ounce wireless device. Disney’s Handheld Device provides audio descriptions of park surroundings and rides for guests with visual disabilities, closed captioning for guests who are deaf, as well as provides other access features at over 51 attractions domestically.
Chosen annually, the Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. Some of the previous award recipients include Apple, Inc., Google, Code Factory, Ski for Light and Canon USA, Inc. The awards will be presented on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute at the downtown Seattle Renaissance Hotel.